Remember getting a class assignment back with red correction marks on it? Now imagine if your paper was covered in red ink, and it was because you were being forced to understand a language you didn’t get. Now imagine it’s your native language, which you struggle to read or write. That’s what people with dyslexia have to deal with every moment of their lives.
To raise awareness of this learning disability, affecting up to 20 per cent of the population, Dyslexia Canada is asking you to “Mark it Read.”
Monuments in B.C. and across Canada will be lit up in crimson to reflect the red pen on assignments when teachers are marking papers.
Dyslexia BC is also holding a Light it Up Red event on Monday night at 7:30 p.m., at Port Coquitlam City Hall to bring attention to dyslexia.
“We definitely need to bring up more awareness about dyslexia,” Dyslexia BC’s Cathy McMillan said. “Teachers aren’t trained to recognize dyslexia in our classrooms and there isn’t enough awareness about how common dyslexia is.”
October is International Dyslexia Awareness Month. One in five live with dyslexia, making reading and writing difficult. It’s an invisible learning disability that can affect self-esteem.
McMillan says “not enough attention is given to dyslexia in this province.”
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B.C.’s Ministry of Education says its purpose is to enable students to acquire knowledge and skills to contribute to society.
But many parents dispute that as dyslexia is not directly funded. Money goes to schools and administrators who then decide which students receive the funding.
Education Minister Rob Fleming says his government is conducting a funding model review.
“B.C. has not really looked at this in a long, long time,” he said. “The needs and acuity of kids with disabilities is certainly not going down, it’s increasing. So we are looking for a way to be more efficient but also to be more focused.”
For many, though, the help will not come fast enough. Schools don’t screen for dyslexia so it is up to parents to get their children private help. Some have had to remortgage their homes to afford the thousands of dollars in specialized education, including the thousands of dollars it costs to have children diagnosed.
“If you can make that child feel successful in kindergarten and Grade 1, they will try so much harder. And also you want to set them up for success,” McMillan said.
The Ministry says there is interest from teachers to have more professional development days surrounding learning disabilities. McMillan is also pushing for audio books to be available, and for screening tests to be introduced in kindergarten, like many states in the United States have done.
You can find more information on the Light it up Red event in Port Coquitlam at the Dyslexia Canada website.